Row brews over rights to Olympics

Row brews over rights to Olympics

Big-screen TVs are on sale at shopping malls ahead of Euro 2016, which starts this Friday in France. (Photo by Weerawong Wongpreedee)
Big-screen TVs are on sale at shopping malls ahead of Euro 2016, which starts this Friday in France. (Photo by Weerawong Wongpreedee)

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has asked the universal service obligation (USO) fund committee to reconsider its 150-million-baht sponsorship of TV Pool to broadcast the 2016 Olympics.

The move came after TV Pool sent a letter to the broadcasting committee saying that Dentsu, the holder of Olympics broadcast rights in Thailand, would not allow anyone to broadcast the games except the six channels in the TV Pool network.

TV Pool comprises Channel 3, Channel 5, Channel 7, Channel 9 (MCOT HD), NBT and Thai PBS.

TV Pool said giving the rights to other digital TV operators to broadcast the Olympics in Brazil could easily break the contract between TV Pool and Dentsu.

But the NBTC's must-have rule gives digital TV operators that provide free TV the right to broadcast the Olympics for the public benefit.

Several digital TV operators have questioned why the USO fund committee approved the 150-million-baht sponsorship for TV Pool to secure Olympics broadcast rights.

NBTC deputy secretary-general Pakdee Manaves said the USO fund committee should reconsider whether its sponsorship is appropriate.

When TV Pool proposed that the committee obtain the sponsorship, it suggested three conditions.

First, all 25 digital TV channel operators would have the rights to broadcast the Olympics on their channels.

Second, the 25 digital TV operators could use Olympics footage when they reported news about the games.

Third, TV Pool would give the NBTC 2.3 minutes per hour to advertise its digital TV campaign to build public awareness of the six channels during Olympics broadcasts.

"But Dentsu didn't agree with TV Pool's conditions," Mr Pakdee said. "It said it would not allow non-TV Pool member channels to broadcast the games."

Meanwhile, Supinya Klangnarong, a broadcasting commissioner, said the group of digital TV operators wants the national regulator to explain the transparency of giving only TV Pool, whose six members are on analogue TV, use of the USO fund.

She said she would pass the issue to the broadcasting committee to consider at its yet-to-be-scheduled next meeting.

Dentsu, a Japanese advertising agency, last year won the Olympics broadcasting rights for 22 countries in Asia for 2018-24.

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